Solve The Problem, But Don't Soak Taxpayers

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Editor:

Population-growth pressure has been building on the Justice Center issue for almost a decade. Globe (short for the Gila County Board of Supervisors) wasn't interested in doing anything about until Payson Mayor Edwards told them Payson needed a new court and jail facility. Apparently, Globe thought, "Cool! We'll stiff them on theirs and get them to pay for a bigger and better facility for us."

My reasons for this observation:

1. Reference the Advisory Committee Report

a. Section 3.20 establishes a booking rate directly proportional to population: 93 per 1000 people.

b. At the 7th meeting, held in Payson March 29, Consensus Agreement #3 had a clause in it as follows:

"In the event that there is opposition from the Town of Payson to construction of County facilities on the existing site, the Citizens' Advisory Committee recommends that the Board of Supervisors consider an alternative plan to be constructed on other possible sites in Payson or its environs."

c. At the 8th meeting, held in Globe, April 12. Consensus Agreement #3 was revised to implement Tommie Martin's "Town Square Option," and added a sentence stating, "This Agreement supersedes the Committee's previous Agreement from March 29, regarding the option of re-locating the Payson jail, court and administrative facilities out of their current location to another site."

2. According to the 2000 census, Globe's population was 7,486, while Payson's was 13,620.

3. Based on the Committee's booking data (item 1.a., above) and the census data (item 2, above), Payson should have twice the jail and court facility the Globe has.

4. The ballot statement says the new Payson facility will have 100 cells, while the new Globe facility will have 200 cells.

5. The Globe facility is on 13 acres -- plenty of room to accommodate future growth over the foreseeable future.

6. The proposed Payson facility, after confiscating adjacent private/business properties through the eminent domain process, will be about six acres, features fewer public and designated parking spaces than the current three-acre facility, and is arranged to be as difficult to expand, as possible.

7. The existing Payson facility will be leveled prior to the start of new construction, requiring all of Payson's criminals and court cases to be moved to Globe, increasing risks and costs associated with transporting prisoners, and requiring all plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, etc., to travel from northern Gila Co. to Globe for this business. This additional prisoner load allows Globe to claim the need for additional facilities.

8. The Committee's primary criteria for Payson's final offer appears to be the cheapest option they could find.

9. The county has a 16% "Reserve Fund," which is roughly 3 to 4 times the magnitude of most governmental entity equivalents.

10. The county has not evaluated their current budget for areas which could be trimmed to at least partially support the Payson facility construction -- something the magnitude of their "Reserve Fund" indicates they should be able to do.

11. If the Payson facility were properly sited and sized, it would relieve the load on the Globe facility, negating their need to grow, or at least delaying it until the Payson facility was finished and actual Globe requirements demonstrated.

"Town Square option" does not trump functionality. Since right and reason cannot convince taxpayers to support wrong size, wrong place, wrong funding, the threat format is applied. With no option for an alternative, we either reward the county's arrogant waste of taxpayers' money on this farce of a package deal, or vote "no" on the tax increases on this November's ballot. Hopefully, this will convince the county supervisors to get serious about solving the problem, rather than using it as an opportunity to soak the taxpayers. If it doesn't, a recall might be an appropriate response.

Terry Putnam

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